DETROIT - Moving day is coming soon for "White Boy" Rick Wershe after a parole board voted unanimously to grant his release from prison.
Prison officials have moved at lightning speed to get his release papers since Friday's parole decision, and they've just arrived.
Wershe spent nearly 30 years behind bars ahead of the Michigan parole board's decision. But now, a potential battle with Florida lawmakers awaits.
On Tuesday, which is Wershe's birthday, prison officials handed him his paperwork. As soon as Michigan's mandatory 30-day hold expires, the state of Florida will be there quickly to pick him up.
Wershe pleaded guilty 11 years ago to racketeering and conspiracy to move stolen cars in Florida. He was sentenced to five years to be served after his release in Michigan.
"I introduced somebody," Wershe said. "My sister was given $6,000, and that is the extent of it."
During a previous interview, Wershe said it was an easy decision because his plea spared his mother and sister, who bought cars.
"I was told, 'You take a plea bargain, or I'm going to arrest your mom and your sister,'" Wershe said. "So what did I do? I took a plea bargain against my attorney's wishes."
Wershe doesn't know when they're coming, but the Florida Department of Corrections has been notified to pick him up. His parole is classified as "non-fixed date," which means Florida can take him out of Michigan as soon as they want him.
"Florida can come and get him right now," Ralph Musilli, Wershe's attorney, said. "They can say, 'We want him right now. We're going to have transportation for him. Make sure he is ready.'"
Musilli was hoping to resolve Wershe's Florida sentence before his client left Michigan by asking a huge favor of Florida lawmakers. He asked them to switch his sentence from consecutive to concurrent, which would have make Wershe's time in Michigan prison count for the time he owes in Florida.
That would allow Wershe to walk out of the Michigan prison a free man.
Musilli now believes Wershe will be in a Florida prison when a decision is made about his future.
"He thinks the game is over," Musilli said. "Once he leaves Michigan, as I told him yesterday, I'm not going to abandon you. If he's in Florida, we have people in Florida. I'll call in a few favors and say, 'Do this, do that.' If I have to, I'll fly down and assist in the arguing of the case."
Local 4 legal expert Neil Rockind has followed the Wershe case closely. He said the law is clear, and that Wershe must do his time in Florida unless the judge or state officials make a very unusual decision.
"It is rare," Rockind said. "But rare doesn't mean impossible. In this case, there are very good reasons for the judge to pull that lever."
Wershe is only guaranteed to stay in Michigan the mandatory 30 days, which expires in mid-August. They will not announce exactly when he will go to Florida, or what facility he'll be held in when he gets there.
As a prisoner, he will find out when he arrives.
Musilli said they will keep him safe and notify him when the transport is complete. In the meantime, he will keep working to reduce Wershe's sentence in Florida.
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